No. 5 UCLA 88, No. 19 Georgia Tech 73

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP)—UCLA added another one to its crowded trophy case.

The fifth-ranked Bruins took control early with tenacious defense and hot shooting and beat No. 19 Georgia Tech 88-73 on Wednesday night in the championship game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

The Wayne Duke Trophy that’s headed home with the Bruins might not be as impressive as the ones they have for their record 11 national championships, but there was little doubt it was theirs Wednesday night.

“This was a great team effort,” Bruins coach Ben Howland said. “I’m just so excited about how we’re playing right now this early in the season. This was a hard, hard place to play and to put together three good days in a row was tough. We’re going to take next two days off and enjoy a Hawaiian vacation.”

Arron Afflalo bounced back from a poor shooting game in the semifinals to score 19 points for the Bruins (4-0), who were in this tournament for the third time.

Darren Collison, selected tournament MVP, had 15 points and seven assists for the Bruins, who shot 61 percent (20-for-33) in taking a 47-36 halftime lead. They extended it to as many as 22 points in the second half, and the Yellow Jackets were never able to get closer than 12 down the stretch.

“It’s crazy,” Collison said of being chosen the MVP. “Any of us could have won it. I’m just glad we got the victory and came out champions.”

Afflalo sung the sophomore point guard’s praises.

“That’s the key to our success when he’s averaging eight assists and playing defense and doing the things no one notices,” Afflalo said. “When he puts ball pressure on like that and creates havoc he helps us all out on the defensive end. Doing all that and getting eight assists a game is phenomonal.”

Luc Richard Mbah A Moute had 14 points and Lorenzo Mata had nine points and 10 rebounds for the Bruins.

Lewis Clinch had 21 points for Georgia Tech (5-1), which got to the championship game by overcoming a 16-point halftime deficit to beat No. 12 Memphis 92-85.

UCLA not only didn’t allow the Yellow Jackets to stage a second straight comeback, the Bruins kept up the solid defense that allowed them to score transition baskets and pound it inside for a total of 38 points in the paint.

“We simply got outplayed, outexecuted and outhustled on the glass although the numbers don’t reflect that,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said, referring to the Bruins’ 33-31 advantage. “I thought we were in good shape but they just took over on the boards. They got that lead in the first half and they are a tough team to play catch up on.”

Afflalo, a starter for the Bruins as they reached the NCAA championship game last season, was 5-for-18, 1-for-8 on 3s, and had 14 points in the 73-68 victory over No. 20 Kentucky on Tuesday. He was 6-for-13 overall and 2-for-8 on 3s against Georgia Tech.

“I didn’t necessarily bounce back too well,” Afflalo said. “I had one more 3 but 3s are 3s. It’s one facet of the game and I try to be a complete player and help my team in other ways.”

UCLA’s biggest lead was 64-42 on a basket by Mata with 9:49 to play. Thaddeus Young hit a 3 with 5:23 left to bring Georgia Tech to 71-59, but Collison and Afflalo each made two free throws to end the threat.

Georgia Tech trailed Memphis by 16 points at halftime of their semifinal and came back for the win by outrebounding the Tigers 29-9 over the final 20 minutes. UCLA outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 16-14 in the second half.

The Bruins were very active on defense, trapping all over the court and forcing the Yellow Jackets into seven turnovers in the first 12 minutes. It seemed UCLA scored off almost every one of them.

Afflalo and Collison ended a 12-2 run with consecutive 3-pointers that gave the Bruins their first double-digit lead, 33-20 with 8:20 left.

UCLA was up by 17 points in the first half when the Yellow Jackets took advantage of three straight turnovers for a 7-0 run that included a 3-pointer by Clinch.

Mbah A Moute stopped the run with his fifth offensive rebound of the half, grabbing a missed 3-pointer by Roll and laying it in with 1:43 to go. Mbah A Moute was 5-for-5 from the field in the half as UCLA scored 22 points inside.

Even UCLA coach Ben Howland got into the physical side of the game. He was standing in front of the bench just after the Bruins took a 43-26 lead when the ball headed his way going out of bounds. Georgia Tech’s 6-foot-10, 250-pound Ra’San Dickey ran into Howland, knocking him down, but the 49-year-old Howland was up in a hurry.

“My knee started to hurt at halftime. Hopefully an MRI will show nothing,” he said drawing a laugh. “I took a charge for the team. He whacked me good.”

With 2:16 remaining in the game, Georgia Tech junior forward Jeremis Smith went to the floor with what appeared to be an injury to his right knee. After being helped off the court, he sat on the bench but did not return to the game. He missed 17 games as a freshman after dislocating his right kneecap in the third game of the season.

“It should be OK,” he said. “Nothing is out of place or anything like that so I should be OK.”

The Bruins finished third on Maui in 2001 and were sixth in 1995 as defending national champions.

Georgia Tech was making its first trip to Maui.

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 Top Performers
L. Mbah a Moute L. Mbah a Moute
7-7,  14 Pts
7 Rebs, 0 Assists
 Georgia Tech
L. Clinch L. Clinch
6-11,  21 Pts
5 Rebs, 3 Assists

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Wednesday, Nov 22